US man rips Toronto Pearson airport confiscation of gramma's jam

Passengers enter security at Terminal 3 of Pearson International Airport in Toronto

Credits: File/Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency


TORONTO - Bernice Howard's strawberry jam is dangerously good, but it's certainly not hazardous.

A jar of the grandmother's homemade preserve did, however, exceed the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority's (CATSA) carry-on size limits and was confiscated at Pearson airport due to "security silliness," one traveller says.

David Howard, of Alameda, Calif., brought his 10-year-old son Lawson for a four-day visit with the boy's grandparents in Hamilton over the holidays. Before the pair headed to the airport to return home on Dec. 31, Lawson's grandmother gave him a 355 mL mason jar of strawberry jam that she had made earlier in the year.

"We arrived quite close to the time we had to travel and had basically forgot about the jam until the agent pulled it out and told us we couldn't take it," the disgruntled father said Thursday. "I mean, seriously, the U.S. is relaxing the rules and Canada is taking grandma's jam from a 10-year-old? It's asinine. Totally uncalled for."

Under CATSA's rules, jam is considered a gel. Containers larger than 100 mL are not allowed in carry-on bags.

RELATED: US border guards reportedly destroy Canadian's musical instruments

"The rules have been in place for almost eight years. They apply to everyone and we don't make exceptions," CATSA spokesman Matt Larocque said. "We've been dealing with more than 40,000 travellers or more every day during this period. In order to be efficient and process people in a timely manner, we simply cannot make exceptions to the rules. We can't allow one jar of jam, one cup of coffee or whatever. It's that simple."

Larocque couldn't speak to the specific case, as it wasn't documented, adding that most confiscated items are not logged due to sheer volume.

Most of the items are not tested and are eventually disposed of in garbage or recycling bins, he said.

"It's not about breaking the rules. It's about how inane the rules are," said Howard. "Here in the U.S., the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has been looking at relaxing various carry-on restrictions ... If they really believe all those jars of jams, tubes of toothpaste and shampoo containers contain dangerous materials, then why aren't they logging confiscated items against travellers and testing them for hazardous materials so they can catch the terrorists trying to take explosives on planes?"

The CATSA agent suggested Lawson's grandmother send him the jam in the mail, but for now the boy will have to do without.

"I love my grandma's jam, it's just so delicious," Lawson lamented from his California home.

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